By Chris Riley
South Dakota completed the season sweep over rival South Dakota State on a windy but sunny Saturday afternoon at Nygaard Field thanks to some early runs and an excellent pitching performance by the Coyotes’ senior standout, Erica Denney.
Denney allowed just three hits and one run while going the distance to pick up her 14th victory of the season (14-4) as the Coyotes knocked off the Jackrabbits by a final of 7-1. With the win, USD leads the Summit League in wins with an 8-1 record, 25-12 overall.
A day after taking a doubleheader from the Jacks in a pair of one-run games, USD struck early and was never seriously challenged throughout the game.
“We all wanted to come out and take the series,” Denney said. “It’s a rivalry game but after the wins yesterday we all calmed down and played the way we usually play.”
USD’s Lindsey Boyd led off the bottom half of the first inning with a single and added a stolen base to move into scoring position. Two batters later, Coyotes’ sophomore Allie Daly drove Boyd in for the 1-0 lead.
After a quiet second inning the Coyotes really opened things up in the third. Following a pair of one-out singles, Daly drive in a run with a double to give USD the 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Morgan Hancock then game to the plate and blasted a three-run homer to straightaway center to extend the lead to 5-1.
“When we’re hitting well like that it helps out our defense at the same time and it calms me down and helps me do my job,” Denney added. “I love scoring first.”
That would be more than enough offense for Denney, as the Sioux City native struck out six and walked three in her seven innings of work, lowering her ERA on the year to 2.28 in the process.
The lone run that Denney allowed came in the fourth inning on a solo blast by SDSU’s Elyse Eitel.
Denney’s teammates aided her effort by stellar defense, including a third-inning gem that saw Yankton-native Christine Broders make a diving stop to her right and a strong throw over to first from the shortstop position to take away a base hit.
The Coyotes used a pair of base hits and a sacrifice fly in the sixth to add two more runs, and Denney shut the door in the ninth, allowing just six baserunners in seven innings.
Daly went 3-for-3 to lead the Coyotes. Daly and Hancock each finished with three RBI’s apiece. Boyd and Katie Dinning finished with two hits apiece, while Dinning added an RBI.
Jennifer Sutton took the loss for SDSU, allowing five runs, all earned, and six hits over 2 1/3 innings.
SDSU falls to 1-8 in league play with the loss, 11-21 overall.
The Coyotes are in action next on Friday as they host Fort Wayne in a doubleheader.
“We have big games next week,” Denney said. “ We don’t want to look too far ahead.”
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